Whale sharks ar­rive early in Nin­ga­loo

Pilbara News - - News - Louise Alling­ham

Whale shark sea­son has be­gun early this year for the se­cond year run­ning.

The sea­son usu­ally starts in the middle of March, but sight­ings have been re­ported off the Nin­ga­loo reef since late Jan­uary.

Ex­mouth tour oper­a­tors have been con­duct­ing tours three times a week since mid-Fe­bru­ary and have suc­cess­fully sighted and swum with a whale shark.

A spokes­woman from Co­ral Bay Eco Tours said they were not yet look­ing for whale sharks as in­ten­sively as they would in nor­mal sea­son times, but were gear­ing up and pre­par­ing the boat for the sea­son.

Ex­mouth Vis­i­tor Cen­tre gen­eral man­ager Kristy Bryan-Smith said the early ar­rival was good news for vis­i­tors be­cause it was a good sign for a long sea­son ahead.

“It also means any­one go­ing to Ex­mouth for a hol­i­day over the Easter break has a much higher chance of spot­ting a whale shark,” she said.

Pho­tog­ra­pher Vi­o­leta Jah­nelBrosig said she had seen eight whale sharks this year on tours and on her pri­vate boat.

She said the early sea­son gen­er­ated work for the com­mu­nity and gave cur­rent tourists the op­por­tu­nity to ex­pe­ri­ence the reef as if the sea­son had started at the nor­mal time in mid-March. The Nin­ga­loo reef is one of the few places in the world where peo­ple can get close to the gen­tle gi­ants.

Depart­ment of Parks and Wildlife whale shark con­ser­va­tion of­fi­cer Dani Rob at­trib­uted the high whale tour sight­ing suc­cess rates to the ac­ces­si­bil­ity of the reef.

“We’re nice and ac­ces­si­ble here at Nin­ga­loo — it’s pretty easy to get to and the last few sea­sons, our sight­ing suc­cess rate has been up around 98 per cent,” she said

“For any eco-tourism in­dus­try in the world, to be able to say 98 per cent of our tours ac­tu­ally get to swim with a whale shark — that’s un­heard of in a lot of places.”

Pic­tures: Blue Me­dia Pho­tog­ra­phy

Whale shark tours have started early in Ex­mouth for the se­cond year in a row.

Whale shark suc­cess rates are high.

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